College of Veterinary Medicine |

Healthy Animals, Healthy People, Healthy Planet


Paco was a Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus). He came to the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital in January of 2004 with severe head trauma, most likely due to colliding with a car. His injuries were so severe that he was completely blind. Over time, he has regained some of his eyesight but he cannot see well enough to survive on his own and he must live in captivity.

Great Horned Owls are named for the feathers on the top of their heads which resemble horns. They have large bodies with brown and black feathering. Their facial disks are not as round as in other owl species and are a tan or buff color. They have a prominent white bib on the upper chest. They have large, yellow eyes. Great Horned Owls are one of the largest and most powerful owls in North America weighing up to 4 pounds. They can take prey up to 2 – 3 times their own weight. Over 250 different birds and animals have been identified as prey, including porcupines, skunks, snakes, owls and other birds, rodents, and fish. Great Horned Owls have very powerful feet and can exert 400 pounds of pressure per square inch.

Great Horned Owls are the most widespread of our owls, occurring throughout North America. They utilize a variety of habitats, and have adapted well to living around humans. Males and females can be differentiated by their calls during mating season; the males have a 3-note call while the female's is 5 notes and higher pitched. 

Washington State University